Beige Book: Economic Activity Increased in Most Regions
The Federal Reserve’s latest Beige Book reports from most of the twelve Federal Reserve Districts suggest economic activity increased in most regions of the country from March to April. The expansion was characterized as modest or moderate by the Boston, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta, Minneapolis, Kansas City, Dallas, and San Francisco districts. Chicago reported that economic growth had picked up, and New York and Philadelphia indicated that business activity had rebounded from weather-related slowdowns earlier in the year. The Cleveland and St. Louis districts both reported a decline in economic activity.
According to excerpts from the report:
The transportation sector generally strengthened in recent weeks, with higher port volumes and increased trucking. Even in districts where transportation was soft, the outlook was optimistic.
Manufacturing improved in most districts. Several districts reported that the impact of winter weather was less severe than earlier this year. Chicago and Minneapolis saw moderate growth, while manufacturing grew at a steady pace in New York, Atlanta, St. Louis and Dallas. San Francisco noted that manufacturing appeared to gain some momentum. Other districts noted mild growth, except Richmond, where manufacturing activity was mixed. Demand for food production declined in the Boston, Richmond and Dallas districts; however, the drop was primarily weather related. Steel production picked up in several districts.
On the whole, loan demand strengthened since the previous Beige Book. Of the districts that reported on banking, Philadelphia, Richmond, Atlanta and Kansas City noted slight increases in loan volume, while Cleveland and Chicago indicated modest growth. The New York and San Francisco districts had moderate gains. The Dallas district noted that consumer loans continued to grow moderately. St. Louis was the only district to report a decrease in loan volumes. With respect to credit quality, slight improvements were noted in Philadelphia and Cleveland, and modest advancements were made in Richmond and Kansas City. The New York and Dallas districts reported especially strong increases. San Francisco indicated no net change in credit quality but noted that credit standards had tightened and that small business lending was primarily reserved for better-quality borrowers. Credit standards were reported to be loosening in the Atlanta district. New York, Cleveland, Richmond and Kansas City indicated that standards were unchanged.
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